Columnist Joe Delaney: Give Prima, Butera, Guercio their due

Fri, Apr 30, 1999 (9:39 a.m.)

The song, "Jump, Jive an' Wail," was written by the late Louis Prima who recorded it for Capitol Records on April 19, 1956, with an arrangement by Sam Butera, who was also featured on saxophone. ... It was included on the album "The Wildest," in October of that year and re-issued as a "Louis Prima: Collectors Series" release.

GAP, an apparel manufacturer, used the Prima version on a recent television commercial. ... The prime beneficiary for all this appears to be the Brian Setzer Orchestra on a CD with a replicated version of the original Prima recording. ... Enterprise Music Corp, affiliated with the American Society of Authors and Composers (ASCAP), has the publishing rights.

This would indicate that the publisher, Enterprise, will be receiving a modest royalty on Setzer's CD sales, half of which would go to Prima's estate as the writer. ... Butera, the arranger, would receive nothing.

History repeated

There was a similar occurrence a few years back when David Lee Roth enjoyed a major resurgence by duplicating the Louis Prima recording of a medley, "Just A Gigolo" and "I Ain't Got Nobody," also arranged by and featuring Butera's sax solo. ... Neither Prima's estate nor Butera, still active, received any compensation from the Roth recording revenues.

The two songs in the medley were the property of other music publishers who received any royalties and shared same with other writers. ... There are laws protecting the rights of music publishers, authors and composers but nothing to protect the artist or the arranger if someone chooses to duplicate their works for personal profit.

Both of the Louis Prima recordings listed above were recorded the same day in the L.A. Capitol Studios and released on the same album. ... Wonder what work by Prima and Butera will be appropriated next?

A similar story

It was LV Hilton musical director at the time, Joe Guercio, who convinced Natalie Cole to acknowledge her late father, Nat "King" Cole, in her Hilton act in 1979. ... The highlight that night was the duet with Dad, using the father's recording of "Unforgettable." ... This was Guercio's idea, an arrangement for which he was compensated.

Twelve years later, in 1991, Natalie Cole was awarded a number of Grammys for "Unforgettable," the album and the song which was based upon Guercio's concept for her 1979 Hilton performance. ... This can be verified; I've also heard the tape of the Hilton performance.

Natalie Cole and David Foster enjoyed huge career boosts as a result. ... Guercio's letters to Cole asking not for additional compensation, but for simple recognition of his contribution, have gone unanswered. ... That's life, too often, in show business.

Back to Butera

Spoke with Sam Monday. ... He was just back from a successful engagement in the East and getting ready to open in the Tropicana Lounge with the Wildest this past Tuesday. ... Sam said the advertising agency that created the GAP commercial did send him $371 and three pairs of pants that he had to have altered at his own expense.

Sam has become philosophical. ... He no longer bristles when someone accuses him of "copying David Lee Roth's song" or, now, "Brian Setzer's song." ... While there may be some satisfaction in knowing the truth, what you have done and where the credit should be, there really should be some acknowledgement and/or recompense as well.

It may be that youngsters today want to hear the old swing classics played by new people rather than "old people," i.e., the originals. ... A sad commentary, but one that may be true.

Jazz suggestions

Call first but try the Green Shack, Wednesdays; Pepper's Lounge, Thursdays; Pogo's on Fridays; Mike Breene, Bob Badgley and Santo Savino, Wednesdays through Saturdays (Santa Fe) plus The Jazz Organ-ization there at noon on Sundays; the Ernie George Four, with Tom Ferguson, Joe Lano and Gus Mancuso at Carollo's, 6:30-10:30 p.m. Sundays and the Wilkins Big Band Mondays (Riviera); Don Menza returns there May 17.

For those who read our column on Jerome Jazz/Denver 2000, the April 15 deadline has been extended to May 15. ... Send your $100 to Jerome Jazz/Denver 2000, P.O. Box 1684, Bailey, CO 80421. ... Support the Sun Summer Camp Fund. ... See you next Thursday.


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